22nd July, 2011
Lagos State has 300,000 registered commercial motorcyclists, a.k.a. okada riders, but a large percentage of them still needed to perfect their riding capability.
â€œThere are underage and illiterates that are also not sound in handling any motorcycle, but they have been issued with the Riderâ€™s card.
â€œSome can not even express themselves in either English or any of the local languages, yet, they have bought Riderâ€™s Cardâ€, Mr. Tijani Pekis, Chairman, Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday.
Pekis noted that the government, the security agencies and Okada unions would have to work together to improve on the situation, so as to further reduce the incidence of road accidents involving motorcycles.
According to him, though motorcycle operators have unions at unit, local government and state levels, it is still difficult to stop an illiterate and inexperienced rider from operating.
Pekis explained that though the state government recognised two motorcycle operatorsâ€™ associations, there were many mushroom ones springing up illegally and worsening the situation.
He lamented that while the unions were trying to ensure that commercial motorcyclists were well identified and documented to ensure that they could be traced, the ease with which anybody could get a Riderâ€™s Card was disturbing.
Pekis also appealed to the security agencies to enforce the laws guiding the operations of commercial motorcyclists, including the wearing of crash helmets, not taking more than a passenger, etc.
According to Pekis, a Riderâ€™s Card is a class â€œAâ€ driverâ€™s licence issued by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) that allows its owner to ride a motorcycle, especially the 125cc category.
â€œA commercial motorcyclist should operate on trunks â€˜Câ€™ and â€˜Bâ€™ roads, not trunk â€˜Aâ€™ roads. Itâ€™s suicidal for an Okada rider to be found on the Third Mainland Bridge, a dual carriage express road.
â€œOur operation is doorstep-to-doorstep transportation in villages within the city. We are not competing with BRT buses or the railwaysâ€, he said.
Pekis also said that the incidence of okada riders burning vehicles and beating up motorists that were involved in road mishaps with them have been reduced drastically as the unions continue to educate its members on such illegalities.